Salmo trutta (brown trout)

Salmo trutta (brown trout)

After some thousands of generations, the fish we have come to call Salmo trutta, or brown trout, had established itself in all of the suitable cold and clean waters of what is now Europe, the British Isles, Northern Africa, the Middle East, Scandinavia, and sub-Arctic Asia.  The fish lived in all of these waters in great numbers, and grew to large sizes, and was content as a race.

But certain elders among the brown trout noticed that the sun rose in the morning on one side of their world, and fell in the evening on the other side, only to reappear the next day in its original location.  Each sun was so similar to the one before it, that it couldn’t possibly be a succession of different suns.  It had to be the same sun, rising and falling, over and over again.  But if the sun fell into the ocean, as it appeared to do, it would be extinguished, and who could relight the sun?  So it had to be that the sun was farther way than the end of the ocean, and somehow came around to the other side of the world before the next morning.  The elders therefore adopted the belief that the world was round.

But if the world was round, and it either rotated around the sun, or the sun rotated around the world, passing most closely to the tepid, uninhabitable waters to the south, then it made sense to believe that there was another temperate region, and then a cold one, south of the tropics.  These new regions, if they existed, could provide new waters for colonization.  It also seemed that there could be other suitable waters north of the tropics, on the other side of the world, beyond the inhospitable salty seas.

The elders planned to explore and colonize these new regions.  But what mode of travel could be used?  A hundred generations worked on an alternative reproductive system utilizing airborne trout spores, but this effort failed.  Finally the elders decided to rely on another species to assist them, and they decided it would be man.

The trout had seen these men, curious creatures, near their waters.  Man lacked both instinct and knowledge, and the trout would use these human faults to their advantage.  The brown trout, until now a shy and reclusive fish, began to show itself to man, by winking and flashing in man’s presence, and taking food from the surface, and after another hundred generations, man was fascinated.

The elders knew that there would be risks.  Some of their numbers would be captured, and some likely even killed and devoured.  Great and worthy projects require sacrifice.  Sacrifices were made.  Man invented lures to attract and capture the fascinating trout.  The elders studied feathers and flies, and developed new, defensive bodies of knowledge to help their race evade capture.  For generations, the elders worked to balance necessary sacrifice with ultimate preservation and territorial expansion.

The experiment was, of course, a great success.  Man has carried S. trutta to every part of the world, and the brown trout now thrives in great numbers, growing to large sizes, in all of the suitable cold and clean waters of the world, and again is content as a race.  The elders’ planning was long range, it was right, and it paid off.

As fishermen, what can we learn from this history?  The elders were very wise, but they couldn’t know everything.  Here is weakness that will help with your fishing.

The elders studied feathers, and taught the members of their race to recognize the flies fashioned by man.  Every farm boy knows that a chicken’s eyes are on the sides of its head, and it has to cock its head to the left or right to see its food.  Every farm boy also knows that eighty-nine percent of chickens, both roosters and hens, are left eye dominant, and their constant turning toward that strong side has given the barbs of the neck feathers a certain subtle bend.  It is this subtle bend that cues the brown trout that your fly is a fake.  The prescriptions are obvious.

First, use flies tied with feathers of right eye dominant birds.  No test known to man can tell the difference after the bird is dead.  The committed fly angler will visit the farm or poultry house, observe carefully the stock, and purchase the right eyed birds on the spot.  His flies will be deadly.

Second, fish in New Zealand, Australia, Chile, and Argentina.  The training of the trout came from northern observations, and it is exactly backwards for the fish now living under the Southern Cross.  Why else are the fishing reports so good from below the equator?

Third, learn to tie your flies left handed, or make friends with someone who can.  The simplest answer is often the best.

Salmo trutta will continue to plan and evolve and make new opportunities for itself.  Let’s see if we can keep up.